TIMELINE – a brief timeline to aid contextualisation of events. Part 1

1450 – 1600

1452 & 1455 ‘Doctrine of Discovery’ Papal Bulls issued, permitting Portugal to seize land and slaves in West Africa

1482 Columbus visit to the Portuguese trading/ slaving base, Sao Jorge da Mina, on the African Guinea coast

1492 Columbus’s first voyage across the Atlantic to‘La Isla Espanola’ in the Caribbean. 12 indigenous people capture to be used as showpieces in Spain.

1493 Papal Bulls ‘Inter Cetera’ granting to Spain the right to conquer the lands which Columbus had already found, as well as any lands which Spain might “discover” in the future.


1494 Treaty of Tordesillas divided lands outside Europe between the Portuguese Empire and the Crown of Castile


1495 During Columbus’ second journey to the Caribbean, the practice of capturing Indigenous people in the Americas for use as slaves starts.


1496 King Henry VII gave an English Crown licence to John Cabot’s voyage to Newfoundland


1502 a fleet of 30 Spanish ships brought the new Governor Nicolas de Ovando, hundreds of Spanish settlers, and an estimated 100 enslaved Africans to Hispaniola.


1502 Estimated population of ‘La Isla Espanola’ as 200,000 – 300,000


1508 Estimated population of ‘La Isla Espanola’ as 60,000


1510 The regular practice of transporting captured African slaves over to the Americas starts.


1512 prominent Indigenous leader in Espanola and Cuba, Hatuey, a Taino cacique [leader], executed. His armed resistance campaign started during the Columbus period.


1513 ‘Indian’ slavery systematised in Spanish colonies in the Americas under the ‘encomienda’ system


1514 Census of population of ‘La Isla Espanola’ as 26,000


1517 Estimated of the population of ‘La Isla Espanola’ 11,000


1518 First reports of smallpox cases in the Caribbean. No evidence of smallpox prior to 1518.


1542 The ‘New Laws’ abolish ‘Indian’ slavery in Spanish colonies in the Americas. However, in order to supply workers in the new silver mines a system of nominal wages for compulsory labour, known as ‘repartimiento de indios’, is introduced.


1562 and 1564 first two ‘successful’ Slaving ventures by Sir John Hawkins


1567 ‘unsuccessful’ Slaving venture by Sir John Hawkins, demonstrates the need for English colonial bases


1584 and 1587 attempts to found the English Colony of Roanoke in modern day North Carolina


1600 – 1700

1606 Establishment of the Plymouth Company (The Virginia Company of Plymouth). Territorial allocation between the coastal strip of 38thand 45thparallels. Subsequently used by the Crown to claim the area that included early New England.


1606 Establishment of the Virginia Company (The Virginia Company of London)


1607 Establishment of the first continuous English Colony, the Virginia Colony in Jamestown by The Virginia Company of London. The Colonists adopted ‘Feedfight’ tactics adopted against the Powhatans.


1607 failed attempt to found an English Colony in Maine by the Plymouth Company


1607 imprisonment of some Separatist Puritans from Scrooby, Yorkshire. Start of move by Separatists to Leiden in Holland.


1610 Virginian Governor Gates ordered Waron the Paspaheghs villages to eradicate them.


1614 The Dutch New Netherlands Company establish a trading post on Manhattan Island near the Hudson River


1619 Plans by the Leiden based Mayflower English Separatists to move to America formulated: 1stuse patent obtained from the Virginia company to go to Virginia Colony; 2ndDutch offer to help establish a settlement on or near Dutch claimed colonial settlement region; 3rdPatent obtained by Merchant adventurers from the Virginia company to go to the north part of the Virginia Colony near the mouth of the Hudson River. 3rdplan accepted.


1619 First African Slaves imported into the Virginia Colony


1619 First colonial assembly started in the Virginia Colony


1620 Mayflower journey across the Atlantic


1622 ‘Mourt’s Relation: a journal of the Plymouth Pilgrims’ Published

1619–22   3,000 of the 3600 settlers who arrived in the Virginia Colony died

1622 Powhatan Confederacy under Opechancanough attack on Jamestown killing 350 colonists.

1623 Wessagusset, near New Plymouth Colony the scene of the massacreof six members of the Massachusetts Indigenous Nation by Myles Standish’s armed group from the colony.

1624 Edward Winslow’s, ‘Good News from New England’, published.

1626 The Dutch West India Company imports 11 male slaves of African heritage into the New Netherlands Colony, which later sharing borders with early New England colonies.

1636 Colonial North America’s slave trade begins when the first American slave carrier, Desire, is built and launched in Massachusetts

1636 – 38 Pequot War

1638 Start of importation of slaves of African heritage from the Caribbean into New England and export of Pequot slaves to the Caribbean

1641 Massachusetts Bay is the first English colony to legalize slavery

1643 Estimated colonial settler population of New England 20,000

1644 – 46 ‘Tideswater War’, Virginia:  two years of raids on Indigenous peoples’ villages and fields using starvation to clear the James Valley.


1640 – 50 an estimated 19,000 African Slaves imported into Barbados.


1623 – 55 English Caribbean Colonies founded – St. Kitts (1623), Barbados (1627), Nevis (1628), Providence (1630), Antigua (1632), Monserrat (1632), Anguilla (1650) and Jamaica (1655).


1665 – 67 Anglo-DutchWar. England won, resulting in the New Netherlands Colony being declared English colonial territory (parts of modern day New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Delaware)and New Amsterdam becoming New York.


1672 The English slave trade systematized through the Royal African Company under the English Crown


1675 – 76 ‘King Philip’s War


1643 – 84 United Colonies of New England (UCNE)


1689-98 ‘The Nine-Years’ War’ between European powers was known in the Americas as ‘King William’s War’.


1600 – 1700 90% Drop in the Indigenous population of the colonised territories of New England


1600 – 1700 Drop in the Indigenous population of the territory covered by the thirteen Atlantic coast colonies of the USA estimated at 240,000 (i.e. 48% of 1600 figure).


1641 – 1700 15,000 Africans were brought to North America and 308,000 to the English Caribbean (Boruck, 2015, quoted in Horne ,2018)

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